As a person who is writing in her own time, and at her own pace, I’m going to share my journey of screenwriting with you. It’s not as hard as it seems and you need to invest time and energy into screenwriting if you are serious about it. As if this is the only thing you can envision doing happily for the rest of your life. Believe in yourself and it will pay off like with any other employee in their career. The only difference is, as you are writing, you are your own boss, your own manager. Like the sound of that?
For all you aspiring writers, here’s 20 simple steps I’ve taken in writing a screenplay. I believe it will help you too.
- Learn how a screenplay should look like. I’ve brought a book of the dark knight trilogy scripts on Amazon, it has done wonders when I have no access to internet to download scripts or prone to distraction because of the internet. You learn parentheticals like O.S (Off screen) and V.O (Voice over) and when to insert them, how to open scenes with brief but rich description and how to keep dialogue minimal but interesting to reveal both character and push the plot forward.
- Realise how many pages a script should be. Usually 90-120 pages.
- Master the classic three act structure.
- Find genres which suit you. Mine are Thriller (Fantasy kind-no hobbits included) & Drama.
- Research on your ideals genres. What kind of films has been made, did it win awards and what for? Who starred in it? And what kind of characters they played?
- Master the 8 sequence structure. http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting/structure/the-sequence/45-the-eight-sequences
- Master the Five plot points. http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting-101/screenplay/five-plot-point-breakdowns
- Add the 3 act, five plot point and 8 sequence structure together.
- Develop your characters, don’t add too much. You need a main or two, and 3-4 supporting characters (who help or hinder the main) and an antagonist to cause conflict. To keep things original, try to make main character a different race from usual main characters. Maybe Hispanic? Bengali? Use their cultural background to help or hinder than in ways the usual white male protagonist can’t have. Maybe it’s a good chance to educate people about cultural differences? E.g. Muslim character really loves mangoes to the point of obsession and is upset that they can’t attend the Friday prayer at mosque because they’re a woman. So pretends to dress up as a man. Or create a protest not only with other Muslim women but men and other people of other cultures.
- Learn about reversals in movies. Brainstorm. Pick and choose whatever will compliment your story and apply: CLICK here: http://www.studentfilmmakers.com/news/how-to/17-Scene-Reversal-Ideas-PDF.pdf
- Get a script writing software, Celtx, Abode…http://screenwriting-software-review.toptenreviews.com/
- Create an outline of your movie using the 3 act, five plot point and 8 sequence structure. I use word for this. And I have also character profiles on there. Hobbies. Give character at least 2 hobbies that will come in handy in the movie and breathe life into them.
- Do MBTI personality type research. Label your characters archetypes. It will help you and others to understand them better. You will learn what motivates them and why. You will learn how they mesh with others. Then give them traits, e.g. calm, shy, annoying or cruel.
- Write your first draft, even if scenes don’t to connect to each other. Just get that written. Try at least a scene a day. I do three scenes a day. Set a start date and a deadline date. I have set myself 3 months maximum to produce a script. In the movie industry, it’s 8 weeks- roughly 2 months. Practice how to write stringently until you can write like a professional screenwriter.
- Fill in the blanks. Remember, every scene has to have a purpose.
- Share with trusted friends. Ask what worked, what didn’t work and what they liked.
- Polish screenplay, edit it and re-draft again and again until it flows and you can visualize it into a movie.
- If you can juggle two screenplays at the same time, then kudos to you. I’m doing it at the moment. It’s better than way because you’ll have a portfolio to show to a producer/director.
- Save your screenplay as PDF’s and on a couple of USB sticks. And in any other way you can.
- Visit the sites listed below to master your screenwriting craft.
Five Plot Points
Eight Sequence Structure
MBTI tumblr: Includes characters MBTI-analysed from films, TV shows and other media